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Despite its reputation as a scourge of antiquity, Yersinia pestis–the bacterium that causes bubonic plague–still causes thousands of human illnesses every year. In modern times, most of these occur in Africa, and to a lesser extent in Asia, though we have a handful of cases each year in the U.S as well. When Y. pestis…

As good news surfaces regarding a new (well, old) potential drug to help combat malaria–a drug already used to treat river blindness–KeithB and Phil Scheibel alerted me to another old malaria fighter featuring Dopey, Sneezy, and the whole gang: Other Disney disease-fighting videos include Water, Friend or Enemy, Insects as Carriers of Disease and Hookworm.…

I left off yesterday with the initial discovery of “Vero toxin,” a toxin produced by E. coli (also called “Shiga toxin” or “Shiga-like toxin”). Though this may initially seem unconnected to hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), the discovery of this cytotoxin paved the way for a clearer understanding of the etiology of this syndrome, as well…

Bubonic Plague in America

At the new blog Puff the Mutant Dragon, there’s a great pair of posts looking at the history of plague, with a focus on outbreaks that have occurred here in the US. Bubonic Plague in America, Part I: LA Outbreak Bubonic Plague in America, Part II: Undercover Science I’ll also link them in my Black…

In the United States, we tend to take our clean drinking water for granted. Even though there are periodic concerns which bubble up about pharmaceuticals or other chemicals in our water supply, we typically believe–with good reason–that we have little to fear when it comes to contamination from microbes. Our drinking water, while far from…

“Pox” by Michael Willrich

Next to Ebola, my favorite virus would probably be smallpox (Variola virus). I mean, now that it’s eradicated in nature, what’s not to love about the mysteries it’s left us–where it came from, why it was so deadly (or, not so deadly, as in the emergence of the “mild” form, variola minor), and will a…